Crash leaves meals without wheels


Meals on Wheels provides 525 meals each day to the elderly, disabled and the poorest of the poor, from Muizenberg to Mowbray.

This NPO, based in Plumstead, was started by Gerald Haines about 45 years ago. He had found that there was a need for the service of providing the elderly with a warm, cooked meal in the Plumstead area.

But they can’t provide this service without vehicles. Now they are struggling to make deliveries since one of their three vehicles was involved in a crash last June.

“It was a write-off,” said manager, Carmen Stemmet. “The insurance company paid something but not enough to purchase another car. We’ve been to car dealerships but because we’re a faith-based organisation we can’t use a vehicle sponsored by the Lottery or a casino,” said Ms Stemmet.

She added that they receive sponsorship from individuals but many are cancelling their debit orders, 10 since the beginning of the year.

“They phone and apologise but have either been retrenched or are struggling financially,” she said.

Added to this they used to receive sponsored vegetables from farms and Epping market but the person who organised this died last year.

Pots of food are also delivered in bulk to satellite stations in Westlake, Lavender Hill and Athlone where people then arrive to fill their containers.

Ms Stemmet said they also provide food to child-headed households, single parent homes, grandparents who are looking after their grandchildren and those who are unable to find work.

Ms Stemmet said they are always looking for volunteers who can give a couple of hours between 8.30am and 3pm, helping in the kitchen, driving or “hoppers”.

In 2011 the Bulletin, the Tatler’s sister paper, joined volunteers Terry Chester from Plumstead and Ana Maria Kellett from Claremont on their rounds to find out what’s involved.

They take it in turns to drive and “hop” which is where they hop out of the car to deliver the meals in their plastic containers.

When Mr Haines started Meals on Wheels Plumstead he only sent out 20 meals a day to homes in the Plumstead area. As the years went on and people got to know about the organisation the tally increased.

The Mowbray branch closed about 15 years ago and the Plumstead branch inherited some of there beneficiaries. Hence their routes stretch from Mowbray to Muizenberg and all the suburbs in between. They deliver three days a week and send out an average of 500 to 525 meals on each day.

If you are unable to volunteer your time you could deliver tinned food and fresh vegetables to Meals on Wheels at 242 Main Road, Plumstead, or call 021 761 2443, or email, for details.